Tucked away in the woods just two miles from where Gold Creek splashes into Lake Pend Oreille sits an exceptional retreat: the Gold Creek Lodge. The almost ghost town of Lakeview is close by, a reminder of the gold rush of the 1850s. This newly renovated lodge was originally a brothel servicing disappointed miners, Lakeview residents, and other lonely folk. It then operated as a resort, after which it garnered a storied reputation as the Happy Hermit.
Dave McCahill discovered the place on the real estate market about three years ago and after a brief look-see, decided to buy it. Although it was timeworn and in much need of repair, he envisioned its potential. Now in its second operational year, Gold Creek Lodge is beginning to transform into a place that once existed only in Cahill’s brain.
I decided that the best way to discover Gold Creek Lodge was to immerse myself in its seclusion. Although the Lodge is car-accessible, my husband Young and I opted for the more scenic and faster route on the Bayview Boat Shuttle. The lake greeted us with clear skies and calm waters as Captain Wes Jones ferried us to the Lakeview dock in his 22-foot Duckworth.
After disembarking, Jones drove us the short distance through Lakeview and then the forest before delivering us to the Lodge’s broad graveled driveway. The full service hotel, restaurant, and bar were bustling with overnight guests, weekend campers, diners, and daytrippers. McCahill and his girlfriend, Kelli, met us on the restaurant porch and invited us in for a drink and a bite to eat. Halfway through our meal, Young looked at me and said, “I think that is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in the Inland Northwest.”
The next day we ordered the Bunco Burger again with sweet potato fries, a small pizza, and the Golden Grilled Cheese. We told ourselves it was because we forgot to take pictures the first time, but it was truly delicious food, plain and simple. The breakfast menu, served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., was just as straightforward, with four menu items including an impeccable egg, bacon, and cheese biscuit; pancakes; and Dave’s Usual—two eggs, two slices of bacon, and toast. Lodge manager Bascom Palmer also informed us that Wednesday nights they served all-you-can-eat spaghetti, and the chef weekly crafted dinner specials.
I could talk about food for pages, but Gold Creek isn’t just a restaurant. Its fundamental aspiration is to be North Idaho’s premier outdoor adventure lodge. So, let’s talk adventure.
Gold Creek Lodge is surrounded on all sides by National Forest. McCahill reminded us that Bernard Peak and Packsaddle Mountain are “in our backyard.” With such easy accessibility, McCahill is creating the perfect basecamp for hikers, kayakers, wake surfers, foragers, mountain bikers, and dirt bikers during the summer, as well as tele skiers, snowshoers, backcountry skiers, snowmobilers, and snow bikers during the winter. The adventure options are endless and for all ages, pursuits, and skills.
During our stay, we paddleboarded with Kelli along the lakeshore on the lodge’s inflatable rental boards and explored the trails that ran the circumference of the property. After all the sun, activity, and food, the soft beds and clean rooms ushered us quickly into sleep. We stayed in one of the nine revitalized hotel rooms, each with two queen beds, a large screen TV, cozy bathroom, and fluffy white towels. A nearby campground offered newly groomed trailer and RV spaces, accompanied by a chic outhouse. A partially-constructed yurt sat on the other side of the pond near the road that, next summer, will lead to a secluded tent campground on the back of the property.
Although McCahill has a house in Coeur d’Alene, he spends most of his time during the summer, and some during the winter, in his apartment above the Lodge’s massive garage. KTM dirt bike rentals, guests’ bikes and McCahill’s motorbikes, mountain bikes, and other outdoor gear occupied the garage during our tour of the buildings. His mannerisms, conversations, and collection of motorized and non-motorized vehicles made it obvious that he is passionate—not just about getting out and enjoying the wonders of North Idaho, but also about this place and culture he is building around him. In Palmer’s words, “Whether we make money with this place or not, for us, it’s all about the ride and the adventure.”//